Controversy over Howard Co. sanctuary bill continues

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 12:28:13-05

So many people crowded into the George Howard Building on Tuesday night that it became standing room only. The Howard County Council heard public comments about the sanctuary bill.

It seeks to make Howard County a sanctuary jurisdiction for undocumented immigrants. The debate went on for hours.

"As a county, we have a responsibility to care for the most voiceless and vulnerable among us," said Rev. Paige Getty, a supporter of the bill.

Councilman Calvin Ball sponsored the bill, and he feels like it's in line with our country's values.

"We have a long history of being pro-immigrant and advocating for so many of our dreamers and fighting the continued fight for the eradication against racism," Ball said.

See also: Maryland is home to several sanctuary cities, counties

Not everyone agrees with him.

"We have national laws and the national laws say you're not supposed to be here illegally," said David Dobbs, an opponent of the bill. "There is a path to come here to America."

RELATED: Proposed bill aims to prevent questions about immigration status in Howard County

The bill raises concern around sanctuary areas losing federal funding, something brought up by President-Elect Trump during his campaign. Ball says nothing has been decided.

"This bill does not prohibit the federal government from carrying out its immigration functions," Ball said. "And to concerns about loss of federal funding -- no one has any idea whether any or all the federal funding that Howard County has enjoyed up to this point will be threatened."

There has also been some concern from police about relationships between local officers and immigration officials, but Ball says everyone "should feel safe in reporting crime and working with police to make us all safer."

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has said he may veto the bill; but since there's a 5-person council, a 4-vote majority would make the bill veto-proof.

RELATED: Kittleman says he would veto sanctuary county bill

The public hearings will continue Wednesday, Jan. 18. A vote could come as early as Feb. 6.

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